ETSI changes mean uncertainty for wireless devices
TÜV SÜD Product Service currently sits on the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) task group, which is involved in the production of the European Harmonised Standard, EN 300 328. The EU Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Directive will be superseded by the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) in June 2016, but the essential requirements of the RED are largely identical to those of the R&TTE Directive.
EN 300 328 is one of the most widely used standards used today for WLAN and Bluetooth devices to demonstrate conformity with Article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive, which states that "… radio equipment shall be so constructed that it effectively uses the spectrum allocated to terrestrial/space radio communications and orbital resources so as to avoid harmful interference."
Over the last decade, the number of products using the frequency band from 2400 MHz to 2483.5 MHz has grown exponentially, with devices becoming more technologically complex. Applications using MIMO technologies and spectrum sharing require the use of a new test methodology. Consequently EN 300328 has been adapted to address these new circumstances.
The latest version, EN 300 328 V1.8.1, is part of a set of standards developed by ETSI and is designed to fit in a modular structure to cover all radio and telecommunications terminal equipment within the scope of the R&TTE Directive. Now is the time to act in order to ensure that your products comply with the new standard.
This standard covers Wideband Data Transmission equipment operating in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz ISM band. Millions of products are covered by this, including WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee devices.
Such equipment can be used in fixed, mobile or nomadic applications, for example:
stand-alone radio equipment with or without their own control provision
plug-in radio devices intended for use with or within a variety of host systems, e.g. personal computers, hand-held terminals, etc.
plug-in radio devices intended for use within combined equipment, e.g. cable modems, set-top boxes, access points, etc.
combined equipment or a combination of a plug-in radio device and a specific type of host equipment.
Both versions 1.7.1 and 1.8.1 currently provide a presumption of conformity (or compliance) with Article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive. Version 1.7.1 will cease to provide a presumption of conformity on 31 December 2014. So manufacturers can continue to issue their Declarations of Conformity to V1.7.1 up until that date, provided this additional clause in the EU Official Journal is also met:
“This version of the standard gives presumption of conformity with the requirements of Article 3(2) ofDirective 1999/5/EC under the following condition: The equipment shall implement an adequate spectrum sharing mechanism, e.g. LBT (Listen Before Talk), DAA (Detect And Avoid), etc., in order to comply with the requirement specified in clause 4.3.5 of this version. Such a mechanism shall facilitate sharing between the various technologies and applications which currently exist and in case of congestion, users will be ensured equal access (and as a consequence a graceful degradation of service to all users). The efficiency of the various sharing mechanisms can be assessed using the appropriate clauses of EN 300328 version 1.8.1.”
This means that manufacturers should have evidence of compliance with this clause if they are to continue to market products in the EU and provide Declarations of Conformity to V1.7.1 of the standard.
After 1st January 2015, EN 300 328 V1.8.1 will be the only standard against which manufacturers can issue their Declaration of Conformity if they are to continue placing products on the EU market.
Existing test data, which was acquired when a product was certified to meet EN 300 328 V1.7.1, cannot simply be updated. This is because the most significant changes in the standard are not just related to new limits, they also include changes to the actual test procedures. Therefore, new tests must be taken to confirm compliance with the new standard.
Previous versions of the standard up to and including Version 1.7.1 were not particularly difficult to comply with. However, since Version 1.8.1 was published in June 2012 it has proved to be more challenging to perform the required tests.
The V1.8.1 conformity assessment process for wireless transmitters has changed significantly, with regards to the addition of tests and changes in test methodology. For example, new tests relating to spectrum sharing and provision of “Listen Before Talk” features apply which require the application of a significantly new test methodology. Also, due to the nature of the changes between V1.7.1 and V1.8.1, delta testing is impractical and in most cases full compliance with V1.8.1 will be required.
As the new V1.8.1 standard has redefined many of the test procedures and measurements required, this has also raised the bar on the capabilities and equipment that a testing facility must have in order to complete this certification. This poses some significant challenges to test laboratories and manufacturers as it requires an in-depth understanding of the technologies involved and is not simply a case of performing tests of a generic nature.
There is also very little “off-the-shelf” test equipment available to perform validated measurements and any new test equipment is unlikely to come cheap. TÜV SÜD has therefore written its own evaluation software and developed test methods to ensure tests to V1.8.1 can be performed correctly.
TÜV SÜD Product Service is fully equipped to provide UKAS accredited testing to EN 300 328 V1.8.1 as well as EN 301 893 V1.7.1, which covers 5GHz BRAN devices. MIMO is also included in our scope. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.